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"Dark Beauty" by Scott Miller.

“Dark Beauty” by Scott Miller.

I used to be the chubby girl. Not in the obvious way but in a way that made me think, No matter how much you work out, you’re just big-boned. Not to mention large-breasted. In college, I never felt like the “pretty one,” probably because my close knit group of gal pals were all absolutely stunning. I was the wild one. I was the funny one. Pretty? My roommates were pretty; I wooed via wit.

Guys didn’t seem to mind my fuller figure. I didn’t mind it … most of the time. Then, sometimes, I just felt big and ugly.

Through all this, I had a friend who was an amateur photographer. Janine was not only my roommate, post-college, but she was another one of the “pretty girls.” Nay, she was smoking hot; yet, she wanted to take pictures of me.

Me? Why?

I agreed because I trusted her, and I liked the photos she took, even though I still felt kind of nervous about how I looked and the occasional appearance, on film, of my lazy eye. When I moved to Charleston, I didn’t think about photography anymore. I thought about beer, beaches, and boys and mastered all three, thank you.

Milk Bath by Ben Stadler-Ammon

Milk Bath by Ben Stadler-Ammon

I didn’t think about having my photo taken again until I moved to Phoenix with Jake and only did so as a boudoir shoot for his eyes only. Then, something weird happened in Phoenix. I lost thirty pounds. I wasn’t big-boned after all. I had become a “skinny bitch.”

One day, I received one of the funniest compliments EVER from a dear friend of mine. She said: “You could be a model. Or a hooker. At Cannes. I hear they have expensive hookers at Cannes.”

My first official photo shoot in Phoenix was in character as Fight Club‘s Marla Singer with the super talented Chris Loomis. And for the first time in my life, I looked at those photos and thought, “Huh. I look pretty good!”

I’ve since gone on to do many, many photo shoots, some completely nude. I’ve become utterly fearless about my body, and I question: Why? Is it simply because I’m “skinny?” That would be the easy answer, wouldn’t it? That would be the stereotypical, media-embraced answer. But I don’t think me being skinny has anything to do with it.

Sahuaro Ranch Park by Daniel DiTuro.

Sahuaro Ranch Park by Daniel DiTuro.

For the first time in my life, I have a man who loves me, supports me, and tells me I’m beautiful all the time. This may be controversial and old-fashioned. I understand we are supposed to love ourselves. We don’t need a man to give us self worth … but it doesn’t hurt.

With Jake, I have grown to become more confident. Trust me, I never needed a man. Until I found a man I needed.

But I don’t do the photo shoots for Jake. I do photo shoots (and runway) because I think it’s fun. It’s fun putting on makeup, wearing crazy hair, and dressing up in costume. It’s fun playing a role and seeing how that role comes across on film.

Modeling has shown me that being skinny isn’t the “pretty” part. Certain poses aren’t exactly complimentary, let me tell you, but who cares if I look a little bloated one day? Who cares if my hair is a frizzy mess? And okay, yeah, I have a kind of strong, manly jaw, but with that camera looking at me, I feel beautiful.

Milk Bath by Ben Stadler-Ammon

Milk Bath by Ben Stadler-Ammon

I wish I had done this earlier, back when I considered myself the “chubby girl.” I wish I had more of a visual time line of where my body has been and where it is now … and eventually, where it’s going. I wish I could tell my younger self just how empowering it is to own the skin you’re in, no matter the shape or size. Marilyn Monroe sure as shit wasn’t a size two, and she’s considered the most beautiful woman in history.

So to all of you (the friends of mine who say they aren’t pretty enough to do a photo shoot, aren’t confident enough to walk the runway), YES YOU ARE. It’s a mental state; not a physical one. Think you’re beautiful, because damn it, you are.

I’m lucky to have Jake as a confidence booster, but I still believe a man is not a self confidence necessity. Single, married, pregnant, post-kids: do a photo shoot, just so when you’re seventy years old, you can look back, see where you’ve been, and know you’ve been beautiful. Always.

Sahuaro Ranch Park by Daniel DiTuro.

Sahuaro Ranch Park by Daniel DiTuro.

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It’s no surprise to all of you that I love the BBC’s reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes. This is due in part to my obsession with British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, but the show really is brilliant. I’m shite at writing mysteries, but I love (love) watching them, so the brilliance of writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss is beyond me. It doesn’t hurt the show’s appeal when both leading men, Benedict and Martin Freeman, garner Emmys for their performances as the immortal Sherlock and Dr. Watson.

Okay, that said, there are so many jokes about how Sherlock and Watson are totally gay for each other. Although Watson just got married in season three, the show doesn’t do itself any favors. There are some pretty long, lingering stares shared between the leading men. Sherlock has no respect for personal space, so it occasionally looks like he’s about to kiss his best mate. And there was that whole awkward “boyfriend” conversation in episode one.

The fans have noticed, and Johnlock (the official term for Watson-Sherlock romance) is rampant in fan fiction and fan art … and most of it is definitely rated R with Watson almost always playing the top, which I guess makes sense since Benedict’s Sherlock is super pretty.

Enter Norway. Two comedic actors, Vidar Magnussen and Bjarte Tjøstheim, have caused quite the internet sensation with their take on the BBC series, and well, I’m enamored. From cell phone auto correct mistakes to “jump-and-kiss” moments, these guys have done their research, and their parodies are not to be missed. (They even mastered the BBC camera angles.)

I present, for your viewing pleasure, episode one, “Oklahomo.”

In case that wasn’t enough, “Mind Phallus.” (Not for underage consumption.)

And for one more laugh, “Missing Shoulder.” (My favorite one, with a shout out to Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr.)

Thank goodness someone spotted these actors’ resemblances to the real thing, because they certainly know how to make a girl laugh. Happy clueing for looks!

smoking

Every Thursday, Akashic Books presents Thursdaze: a writer’s fictional experience with marijuana, speed, heroin, cocaine, or any other drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized.

There are rules. Stories in this series must adhere to a 750-word limit. Plus, there’s an emphasis placed on stories that stylistically emulate the drug of choice, allowing readers to indulge risk-free.

It’s pretty easy to spot my vice: cigarettes. Today,Thursdaze presents my rhythmic short, “No Smoking.” Inhale … exhale …

No Smoking
by Sara Dobie Bauer

She wondered what his skin felt like. There was little of it to see, wrapped in all black, like a Bedouin woman in the desert. It was a nice suit but so much fabric. Layers. His neck and face had somehow escaped. He had fingers like long, unsharpened pencils.

“May I borrow one of those?”

“Will you give it back once you’ve finished?”

There weren’t many smokers. Smoking was passé, like opium. There were laws against it. No smoking inside. No smoking within twenty-five feet of this door. People never walked down sidewalks smoking for fear of offense.

“Why is it only bad guys smoke in films?”

“Or whores.”

He looked like neither. She’d seen him before, of course, dozens of times. The bigger the city, the smaller it felt. The smokers—bad guys, whores—were relegated to a side alley. There were a few folding chairs and a gate at the end to keep the party private. The night was warm. Her legs felt sticky and wet where they crossed. She regretted using lotion earlier. She feared at any moment she would slide off herself and into his trousers.

Read the rest of my homage to smoke at Akashic Books.

sara smoke

Your skin is the only thing keeping you together.

You like to poke holes to see if it might suddenly give way.

Sometimes, you feel like a balloon with a small leak.

He likes to pick your scabs while you lay in bed together. He asks you questions:

Why do you cut yourself?

Does it feel good to cut yourself?

Would you stop cutting if I loved you?

You tell him you’ve been cutting since the eighth grade. Now, well into your twenties, you don’t remember how to do anything else.

Except sex, he says. You remember how to do that.

“Yes,” you agree.

Sex is just another hole being poked.

Photo by Devon Adams.

Photo by Devon Adams.

Funny: when you fall ill with some mystery virus that keeps you restrained to the couch (or even the floor, depending on how far I have to walk), you find time to watch some TV. When I say TV, I mean Netflix. I’m not suggesting the following nine programs are critically acclaimed or that they’ll soon be winning Golden Globes, but shut up, these are my favorites and NEVER QUESTION A SICK PERSON.

1. Salem


Witches! Sexy witches!! Takes place in the heat of the Salem witch trials, and it’s one of those shows where you’re not sure if you like the good guys or bad guys more. And who is a good guy / bad guy anyway? There’s only one season out right now, but that means you can finish it fast and be prepared for season two.

2. Ripper Street


Dark. British. Takes place just after Jack the Ripper finished terrorizing London. The three lead actors are charismatic, sexy, and comical in their own sick, twisted ways. I’m particularly fond of the American, Jackson (yum). Each episode is another mystery, but don’t skip around, as character development is really just as intriguing as the murders themselves.

3. Twin Peaks


I realize I’m horribly late to the game. This show (a cult classic) only had two seasons back in the early nineties. It’s quirky, scary, and rank with melodrama and bad 90s music. I adore wacko FBI agent Dale Cooper, and you even get to see David Duchovny in drag. Who killed Laura Palmer?

4. Archer


Reprehensible, inappropriate, and politically incorrect: all things I strive to be in life. An animated gem, this FX original will keep you laughing … and laughing … and quoting lines until your stomach hurts. Plus, the super sexy voice of H. Jon Benjamin fits super sleuth Archer perfectly.

5. Sirens


Follow a ragtag brigade of EMTs around Chicago. Really, it’s the dialogue that makes this show, as well as the super gay sidekick. Jake and I binge-watched this beauty, because laughter is the best medicine.

6. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries


A friend of mine said Miss Fisher reminded her of me, which is a huge compliment, considering this roaring 20s female PI is hot, fashionable, fiery, and irresistible. Follow her as she solves crimes and slowly falls in love with gorgeous Aussie detective Jack Robinson. Love the clothes!

7. Doctor Who


I’m talking mostly about the Matt Smith years. Doctor Who is a consummate sci-fi classic, but Matt Smith nails the character of the doctor. It doesn’t hurt that he’s handsome and funny. As The Doctor travels through time and space, he always has a grin and a quippy comment. He’s fascinated by all things new and dangerous; I’d like to be more like him.

8. Sherlock


Benedict Cumberbatch. Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch in a tight purple button-down. Cumberbatch with black, curly hair. Mmmm, yeah, I’m shallow, but really this revamp of the Sherlock Holmes story is modern and well-written … although you might need subtitles, because Sherlock talks fast, like a giraffe on cocaine.

9. The IT Crowd


I’m not a computer nerd, and yet, I love this show about computer nerds. It’s the British humor: over the top, physical, but never gross or crude. The three lead actors make the show. Think Seinfeld on a different continent and with accents. I almost cried when I watched the last episode, simply because there were no more.

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When news broke Saturday morning that my “boyfriend” Benedict Cumberbatch was having a secret wedding on the Isle of Wight in England, I texted people as if I was the one getting married. Then, I scoured the internet and waited for some sneak peaks of the ceremony.

Imagine my disappointment when there were none.

Believe me when I say I quite literally know what’s happening in this man’s life before he does. I have never, ever delved so deeply into celebrity worship in my life. This is due to the aforementioned internet: sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the most efficient celebrity stalking site, Tumblr.

Since the start of my Bed-Addiction, I have felt no guilt mooning over photos of him at airports or caught out on the town with friends. Then, when there were no photos of him in a tuxedo Saturday, I felt irritable, cheated. I felt like Benedict Cumberbatch owed me something.

I recently interviewed British author Nick Hornby for work. A charming man with an Alan Rickman voice, he’s spent a lot of time working the Hollywood scene. I asked him if he thought we made celebrities into gods, and he said, yes, of course we do, which sets us up for disappointment.

As he told me at SheKnows.com, “I think we don’t actually have a fantasy about meeting somebody; we have a fantasy that that person will become our friend. All it will take is a handshake, and you’ll end up going on holiday together.”

Therein lies the problem; I’ve started viewing Benedict as my friend, and of course he owes me a wedding photo. Isn’t that CREEPY?

My oddball realization begs the question: What do celebrities owe their fans? Adversely, what do fans owe celebrities?

There are celebrity attention whores like the Kardashians who share everything (literally). There are charming celebrities like Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki of Supernatural fame, who make me laugh with their Twitter feeds. Then, there are celebrities like Benedict who aren’t on any social media and who keep their private lives private.

As a celebrity with a psychotic fan base, I’m sure Benedict is aware fans linger on his every word and discuss every outfit he wears ad infinitum. I’m sure he knows we want to see a picture from his wedding, but he has kept careful watch over his now wife, Sophie Hunter, probably because he knows he’s a hunted man. The couple is due to have a baby this year, too, but I’m sure we’ll never see it.

Should this upset we, the Cumber Collective? It does upset me, but it shouldn’t.

To be honest, celebrities owe us nothing. And if we are true fans, we owe celebrities respect. Sure, they might walk red carpets at gala events. They might buy 10.8 million dollar houses (ahem, Benedict), but how soon we forget: they’re just people. They wake up with bed head. They have morning breath. They go grocery shopping and have messy kitchens.

Celebrities are not gods. (Most of them only look like gods because of Photoshop anyway.) They are just human beings doing a job, no matter what TMZ tells you.

The Art of Love

Saturday, I MC’ed an event for Gina’s Team called “The Art of Love” at Cup O’ Karma in Mesa. It was a fundraiser where we featured musicians, spoken word poets, roses, hand-painted coffee mugs, and inmate art. Even I sang a couple sets.

Needless to say, I was terrified. Let’s face it: generalized anxiety disorder feels like heartburn in your brain. I’d already give myself permission to consume a vodka martini post-event, but first, I had to make it through the event.

Once things got rolling, I found a rhythm, assisted greatly by the likes of emotive piano player Nate Rosswog, sexy chanteuse Tiffany Brown, and Gina’s Team co-founder Sue Ellen Allen. Ex-inmate Sandi Starr and one of the phenomenal Gina’s Team interns, Samantha, brought us practically to tears with their witnesses on how the organization saved them both.

me-and-russWe kept on rolling with kingpin poet Tristan Marshell, gravel-voiced god Jon Rodis, and Rasheda Poe, who translates pain perfectly into poem. It was a relief for me when I got to sing two sets—one with jazz prodigy Jesse Sumter; the other with my gifted, spirited guitarist, Russell Braman—because I could just shut up and sing, wrap myself in lyrics like warm ocean waves.

The ever-glamorous wordsmith Emily Cimino reminded us that love ain’t always pretty. Then came the cast from Four Chambers Press, Jared Duran and Jia Oak Baker, who made us laugh and consider what love is all about (even if it involves Costco). We closed the afternoon with Teneia: a melodious married duo that had us dancing in our seats.

But let me be honest: all my artists, my volunteers, were not the highlight of the day. A small busload of teen girls from Mingus Mountain Academy came for the show, as well, and a certain girl (let’s call her Mary) who I’ve connected with in the past sought me out because she needed to talk.

We headed to the alley behind Cup O’ Karma, and Mary admitted she’s been barely able to cope with her depression. She’s been having nightmares. She wants to isolate herself from everyone. She’s scared she’ll never feel okay again.

A strange epiphany: Mary and I have been experiencing the exact same emotions, she in Prescott, me in Phoenix, for months. Divided by miles; connected by despair—connected by “The Art of Love” event this past Saturday.

I told Mary I didn’t have the answers, because if I did, I would have remembered how to eat by now, how to get out of bed in the morning, how to smile at good news. I told her that the only way I make it through the day is one step at a time: one hour of one day of one week … I told her, “Just make it through this hour and the hour after that and the hour after that.” She seemed relieved. We hugged a half dozen times before she had to leave.

I wondered later, while surrounded by Gina’s Team supporters, if I’d done enough. I always wonder if I’m doing enough. Then, I remembered, we do what we can for who we can when we can.

That’s what Saturday was about. That’s what Gina’s Team is about. That’s why all my musicians and artists agreed to do an event for free for a good cause—no, a great cause. Like Sue Ellen says, “Been there, done that; now, how can I help?” I’ve been in love; I’ve been broken by love; I’ve cut myself until I bled.

If not for our own experiences—the good, the bad, the ugly—we couldn’t help other people. And because we survived those experiences, we can give back, hence Saturday’s “Art of Love.” What can you do today? (If you’re moved to do so, donate to Gina’s Team.)

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